Yellowknife Frame Lake
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I was recently talking to the president of the Chamber of Commerce who told me of some concerns held by the business community about our Labour Standards Act. He suggested that labour standards should be easy to understand, equally applied and vigorously enforced. Right now, the feeling is that our labour legislation is complex, unsuited for many business sectors and is not monitored at all.
Following that conversation, Mr. Speaker, I called the president of the Federation of Labour and found labour concerns to be remarkably similar. The federation's position is that our current act is outdated and in urgent need of being updated. In fact, they tell me they have met twice this year with the Minister to press for action on our current legislation.
Mr. Speaker, it is not every day that business and labour groups agree so wholeheartedly on an issue. Not that there won't be differing opinions among business and labour about some of the changes needed, but it is noteworthy that they both feel the urgent need to address our current labour standards legislation.
Mr. Speaker, both groups are also disappointed that there has not been more action resulting from the recommendation of the report of the labour standards law review panel into employment standards in the NWT, which was commissioned by the Government of the Northwest Territories and tabled in the Legislature in October of 1990.
Mr. Speaker, neither group is, at this time, recommending a $1 million plus commission, like the Northern Workplace Commission earlier proposed by this government. Whether or not this government should take over labour relations from the federal government is something that can be considered later. What is needed now is some action on labour standards, an area which is already within this government's jurisdiction.
Mr. Speaker, given the time left before an election and our current fiscal situation, we need a relatively quick and inexpensive solution. I note that the Minister has already committed to review the minimum wage; this is just one small part of the labour standards issue. Why not approach business and labour asking them to each put a representative forward to work on a bipartite committee with an impartial chair, and use the report, which was tabled in 1990 in the Legislature, as a starting point?
Mr. Speaker, I see that I am going to run out of time. I would like to seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.